Elderly, People With Disabilities in Superior Face Cuts

Potential Cuts to Long Term Care in Wisconsin

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“We are licensed for the advanced aged and Alzheimer’s dementia,” Harmony Holmes administrator Pamela Clark said.

For the last ten years, Harmony Homes in Superior has been an alternative to the traditional nursing home.

“We do everything,” said Clark. “We cook all their meals, we help them with bathing, we do their laundry.

That list of services could be downsized.

“We have a lot of concerns on what’s going to happen,” said Clark. “What’s going to happen to our residents, how are we going to get the funding for them.”

The concern is happening because Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal includes changing Wisconsin’s long–term care for the elderly and people with disabilities.

“This totally came out of the blue,” Rep. Nick Milroy (D-South Range) said.

On the chopping block is the Family Care program, a supportive services model that’s tailored to the specific needs of different parts of the state.

“They have been great, a lot of good changes,” said Clark.

The plan would essentially be a one–size–fits–all program across Wisconsin that may be managed by one or two insurance companies saving millions of dollars.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen, nobody does,” said Clark.

Milroy believes having a large healthcare system could strip away regional leadership and ultimately the necessary care for patients on a local level.

“Everything is unknown when you have a large policy change like this,” said Milroy. “It shouldn’t be done in the state budget, this is something that should be a separate piece of legislation.”

Providers say they’ve experienced cuts at almost every cycle in the last several years and this would just add more financial strain.

“Because everything else keeps going up you know,” said Clark. “Insurance and food and gas and heat and everything else keeps going up, but we keep taking cuts so it is a concern.”

If approved, the change will go into affect in 2017.

A public meeting about the proposal will take place March 16 from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. in the Government Center in Superior.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services released this statement on Walker’s behalf:

“Governor Walker is focused on preserving essential safety net programs including Family Care.  His budget includes proposals that would slow expenditure growth and maintain essential health care services. As the population ages, and the costs of long-term care services continue to rise, this new model will improve the coordination of care while creating service and financial efficiencies to keep dollars in services and not in administrative functions. The Governor’s reforms will also ensure that long-term care members can self-direct their own long term care services.”

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